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11/14/2018 - 2:05pm I think it's a number of…

I think it's a number of things.

1) 2016 was only Harbaugh's second season at M and he was kind of playing with house money.  It would have been great if he'd have won the Big Ten that year, but he didn't have all "his guys" in place and wasn't really expected to do so.  Now Harbaugh is in his fourth year and has about as complete a team as most programs ever have.  

2) M lost the Iowa game late in the 2016 season, and Speight was hurt--nobody really knew if he'd even be available for OSU right up to the day of the game.  He did wind up playing, but was clearly limited.  This year M has gotten through its pre-OSU gauntlet without a conference loss and has a very healthy team overall.  So the late-season expectations are much higher.

3) Probably the biggest difference, IMO, is the off-field turmoil in Columbus.  A Michigan victory in 2016 would have been nice, and probably given M a bit of a boost in perception and recruiting appeal, etc.  But OSU would have been back strong the next year.  A Michigan victory this time around, with the Zach Smith scandals and all these questions swirling about whether Meyer will be back next year, could really knock them down a peg.  Their fanbase cannot handle adversity and a high-stakes loss to Michigan in the midst of all this other stuff would really stir the pot.

11/14/2018 - 1:17pm In 2006 Michigan played a…

In 2006 Michigan played a late-season game against Ball State and narrowly escaped the upset.  So that's why I'm always like "fuck late-season MAC games."

11/14/2018 - 12:54pm I realize Drevno failed to…

I realize Drevno failed to reproduce his previous offensive line success at Michigan but I don't think talent identification was ever a problem with him.  M has hit on almost every lineman they signed with Drevno and even some of the guys they missed on are starting elsewhere (like Devery Hamilton and Isaiah Wilson).  I don't think a Drevno caveat is needed for recruiting purposes. 

11/14/2018 - 12:28pm Good for Higdon.  

The only…

Good for Higdon.  

The only other B1G back on this list is Jonathan Taylor, who has over 1500 yards already but also four fumbles.  

11/14/2018 - 7:04am I'm sure PFF tracks…

I'm sure PFF tracks something like that.  I feel like I've seen one of their graphics with like "top 5 players in pressures per snap" or something like that.  Of course, probably just their overall player grades would likely give you a more direct way of seeing which of the two guys is playing better.  Unfortunately most of PFF's stuff is paywalled and without a subscription I don't think you can just pick two players and compare them.  

Even apart from the per-snap issue, though, I've always just found defensive counting stats in general to usually be at least double edged and sometimes meaningless.  If a cornerback has a lot of interceptions, does it mean that he's locking guys down or does it just mean that he gets picked on a ton?  If a guy has a lot of tackles, is that because he "has a nose for the ball" or is it because his team gives up lots of first downs and so there are just more tackles to be made?  If one guy has a lot of fumble recoveries and another guy doesn't, what the hell does that say about them?

Sacks and TFLs seem almost random--the credit goes to the player who makes the actual tackle but often (if not most of the time) it's a different player (or group of players) who caused the pressure that led to the sack or TFL.  And while some teams seem record lots of sacks because they have dominant pass rushers, other times it's because of good secondaries that force QBs to hold the ball longer.  And then look at a guy like Josh Uche.  He leads Michigan in sacks--does that mean he's our best defensive lineman?  Looking on a per-play basis would probably make Uche's numbers look truly ridiculous, because he's gotten all those sacks on a pretty limited number of snaps.  Of course, those numbers are misleading out-of-context because Uche right now is pretty much a pass-rush specialist.  If he improves in other areas next season and starts playing more on standard downs, then his number of per-snap pressures will almost certainly decrease even though he'd be a more well-rounded, better overall player.  

That SpartanWire guy, though, seems to have a real problem with Winovich.  He was going to say that Willikes is better no matter what evidence might be to the contrary.  It's pretty freaking immature, if you ask me.  I'm just a fan of Michigan and I root for our guys and I obviously don't have any kind of professional obligations or reputation to uphold around college sports, and yet I can recognize that Willikes is also a great player and respect him for what he brings to his team.  You'd think a guy working in the industry could do the same.  Spartans gonna spart, I guess.  

11/14/2018 - 5:46am The later a game against…

The later a game against Alabama could be pushed, the better.  That both creates additional opportunities for other teams to upset them, and provides more possibilities for injuries or other entropy events that favor the underdog.  Moreover, even just winning a semi-final puts another trophy in Michigan’s case—so might as well have the lesser opponent then.

I think Michigan’s NCAA Tournament run last spring provides a meaningful comparison.  M faced Loyola in the semifinals and Villanova in the title game.  This gave M an easier path to the finals and also gave Kansas a shot to knock off Villanova first.  It didn’t work out.  But if M had drawn Villanova in the semi-finals, then M would not have made the title game and there would have been no possibility of avoiding Villanova via KU upset.

11/14/2018 - 5:02am Without the Rutgers…

Without the Rutgers adjustment Shea would probably be over 100.

11/13/2018 - 6:24pm This is how I feel about it…

This is how I feel about it.  Yeah, ND’s schedule turned out to be weak.  But they signed up to play Michigan, Virginia Tech, FSU, USC, Syracuse, Stanford, Pitt... That’s the kind of scheduling that should be rewarded, even if most of those teams are down this year.  

I don’t generally like the head-to-head comparison because ordinarily it’s used to compare teams with identical records—meaning the winner to the H2H matchup has another loss to somebody else.  So if ND loses a game then a 12-1 Michigan easily passes 11-1 ND despite the H2H because ND’s loss to Syracuse or USC is undoubtedly a worse loss than M’s loss to ND.  But right now ND is 12-0.  It’s not just that they beat M head-to-head, it’s that they are undefeated by virtue of that victory whereas M is a 1-loss team.  The rest of ND’s schedule would need to be deeply and indefensibly bad to even consider putting them behind Michigan in this scenario.  But ND’s schedule is easily defensible; they scheduled a bunch of traditionally strong teams and just happened to catch many of them in down years.  

11/13/2018 - 4:02pm Right.  I can understand…

Right.  I can understand where the people criticizing McMurphy for this story are coming from.  But I don't think it was irresponsible to report it.  Here is my reasoning:

1) ZS either called Trevon Grimes n-word or he didn't.  McMurphy has multiple sources telling him that Trevon Grimes said ZS did so: LeBron Grimes, Dennis Allen, and the three anonymous Florida teammates. I can understand why some would disagree, but I think that's enough corroboration to responsibly report the story. Trevon himself has refused to comment.  McMurphy has not been given access to Jaylen Harris.  And while there are reasons to question LeBron Grimes's credibility, those reasons are disclosed in the story so the reader can decide how credible he or she thinks the claim is.  Of course, Trevon himself could have made the whole thing up from the get-go (which seems to be what the current OSU players are claiming).  But McMurphy has no way of knowing this and Trevon's refusal to comment is not the same as retracting his prior statements or admitting that he lied.

2) OSU either extracted a the Grimes family's silence as a quid pro quo for cooperating with Trevon's NCAA waiver, or they didn't.  So, Trevon suddenly went from claiming ZS called him racial slurs and wanting to get the F out of Columbus asap, to shutting his trap and refusing to comment on the situation.  That begs the obvious question of, "what changed?"  LeBron claims specifically that Trevon had threatened to go public.  It's not clear how LeBron would know this, but it's also not a stretch to believe that he would know this if it was true.  Again, with Trevon and his mother not talking, there is limited information to work with.  But something must account for Meyer's sudden trip down to Ft. Lauderdale and meeting with Grimes. 

The circumstantial evidence for this transaction appears pretty strong.  After the visit, Trevon (and his mother) stopped talking and OSU supported the NCAA waiver for him to play at Florida.  It's certainly possible that Meyer & Co. just went down there out of the goodness of their hearts to lend emotional support to Trevon and his ailing mother.  But would they really interrupt game preparations for a trip like this?  McMurphy claims Meyer had never previously canceled a press conference--and did so for this trip.  It's not as though Grimes' mother was on her deathbed--the trip could have waited.  Also, Zach Smith was one of the people on the visit.  If the sole purpose of the visit was for emotional support, why would they have brought ZS along under these circumstances?  

Again, we can't know for sure whether this is what happened.  But in my opinion there's enough evidence to report these facts and let readers come to their own conclusions.  

3) LeBron Grimes is either telling the truth, or he's not.  Probably one of the main criticisms McMurphy is vulnerable to here is that his main source for the story is a guy with a fairly extensive criminal record who abused Trevon's mother.  McMurphy puts this information out there, but also makes clear that the mother has serious credibility issues of her own.  I guess I'm not one of these people who thinks that just because someone does something illegal or violent, or certainly dishonest, that they can never be trusted again.  But that's a viewpoint that many people do hold and I respect that.  So I can understand why some people feel that McMurphy just didn't have enough ammo here and should have either obtained more corroboration or just let the story go.  But I disagree, I think he had enough.

 

 

11/13/2018 - 10:54am Well, that's just my summary…

Well, that's just my summary of the story McMurphy told.  Certainly his sources have some major credibility issues, but so does OSU--so who knows what parts of this are true, false or exaggerated?  I have no idea.  But to suggest this isn't even a story--I just found that astonishing.

11/13/2018 - 10:33am Not much of a story?

Trevon…

Not much of a story?

Trevon Grimes' parents obviously both have serious issues.  His mother was a nurse and had her license revoked for stealing from elderly patients, while his father has a string of DV crimes with different women.  Yet Trevon overcomes all that, works his ass off and earns a college scholarship to play football.  He goes to Ohio State, and once he gets there, his trusted position coach gets in his face and tells him he's nothing but a "bitch ass nigger" who ZS never should have recruited.  Trevon is so (quite understandably) upset by this he leaves school and returns to Fort Fucking Lauderdale.  Then he needs help from OSU to enroll in a different local program.  He doesn't get that help, so he threatens to reveal publicly what happened at OSU.  That's when Meyer and his entourage fly down in a private jet during game week and, instead of doing anything about ZS or taking any other steps to make things right, they offer to help Trevon go to UF provided he and his mother keep their mouths shut about what happened--and Meyer still keeps ZS on staff.   

That's a fuckin' story, man.

11/13/2018 - 10:21am Wow.  The story is just…

Wow.  The story is just plain sad. 

  • Trevon Grimes and Zach Smith have a confrontation in practice in 2017.  Grimes claims ZS called him a "bitch ass n--r" and said "I never should have recruited you."  OSU at first denies the incident occurred at all, then later admits there was an "altercation" but denies ZS used the racist language.
  • Grimes withdraws from school and goes back to Florida.  He wants to try and transfer to UF.  Meyer has the ability to block the transfer.  
  • Suddenly, Meyer and some other OSU folks take a mid-week trip to Ft. Lauderdale (Grimes' hometown) in October 2017 for unexplained purposes.  This interrupts OSU's game prep and forces Meyer to cancel his press-conference, which evidently had never happened before.  The implication is that Grimes has threatened to go public with his allegations.
  • The OSU staff return and claim they visited Grimes because of a "family health situation."  In fact, Grimes' mother does have cancer and it appears to be terminal, as an attempt at surgical removal was unsuccessful.  
  • Grimes, with OSU's cooperation, is then able to get a waiver to transfer to UF and play immediately due to his mother's cancer.  Grimes and his mother are no longer talking to the media. 
  • Grimes' father is still talking, but Mrs. Grimes claims he's not credible.  McMurphy finds out that Mr. Grimes has a history of DV and abuse, while Mrs. Grimes is a former nurse whose license was revoked for theft and financial exploitation of elderly patients.  
  • The overall implication is that Meyer, wanting to keep the story of ZS' racist remark quiet, agreed that OSU would cooperate in helping Grimes transfer to UF and obtain the NCAA waiver, provided they keep their mouths shut.
11/13/2018 - 9:59am I never saw Leach play,…

I never saw Leach play, except baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays.  I did see Harbaugh, but was too young to really have an intelligent opinion.  But in my time, the handful of individual QB seasons that stand out (for different reasons) are these:

  • 1991 Grbac: I believe he led the nation in passing efficiency and, of course, was the QB throwing the ball to the Heisman winner.  Somewhat of a disappointing season with blowout losses to FSU and Washington, but that was really more on the defense (especially the FSU game).
  • 1997 Griese: Consummate game management performance.  Did not put up great stats but did all the  "little things," intangibles, etc. and was the definition of clutch.  
  • 2000 Henson: Led probably the most potent Michigan offense I've seen.  Might have been good enough for a national title if only Lloyd and Hermann ever would have taken the spread offense seriously.
  • 2011 Robinson: Great performance both running and passing, led team to 11-2 record and Sugar Bowl win  

Some other seasons worth consideration (since 1991): 2006 Henne, 2003 Navarre, 2010 Robinson, 1992 Grbac

 

11/13/2018 - 9:47am Yeah, I still remember…

Yeah, I still remember watching a MNF game during the late '80s and the broadcast crew was talking about how until Harbaugh, Bo had never had a QB taken in the NFL Draft.  Then several years later a story came out that Bo had been doing a home visit to one of the top college QBs the night of that game and Bo is sitting there in the kid's living room watching the game when that comes on.  I forget who it was (maybe Mirer?), but he didn't go to Michigan.  

11/13/2018 - 9:31am I wish the author would have…

I wish the author would have included QBR in the comparison.  

11/13/2018 - 6:07am Probably bad video games,…

Probably bad video games, too.  Like, instead of Madden football, he was the one kid playing Sports Talk Football.

The neighborhood kids would come over because Crowley’s parents bought him a Sega Genesis.  But then it was like, “Come on, guys.  Let’s play some Sports Talk Football.”

11/13/2018 - 6:00am Yeah, after seeing your…

Yeah, after seeing your comment I went over there and skimmed through some articles myself. My god, what a horror show.

Right now the top article is some bizarre piece in which he calls Chase Winovich “Foghorn Leghorn” and argues that Kenny Willekes is a better player because apparently football is the only thing Willekes does, whereas Winovich does some other things too.

Literally every article on the site was authored by Sullivan, yet each article dutifully includes a byline for him.  Does this imply that the site is supposed to have other contributors and, for some reason, does not?  Or is it just unnecessary text that signals something negative about Sullivan’s self-esteem?

There seems to be a plurality of articles bashing Michigan, whom he refers to as “UMAA.”  Nobody uses “UMAA.”  Except Sullivan, I guess.  

Overall, it has basically the flavor you would expect if a typical RCMB poster had his own Spartans blog.  There is no objectivity, no real analysis, no respect for the players or coaches or the game itself.  It’s like if Damefan1 got a hold of a keyboard.  And cheered for State.

11/13/2018 - 4:51am Recent football success is…

Recent football success is not the only criterion here.

Louisville is a commmuter school with a below-average academic reputation that hitched its wagon to dirtbag John Schnatter for the last 20 years.  It doesn’t have a great campus. It doesn’t have a great alumni network. It doesn’t have great facilities.  It’s not in a place with natural beauty or beaches or great weather or amazing culture. The Louisville name might still carry national cachet in hoops (not sure after the Pitino scandals); it doesn’t in football.  What selling points does Louisville ultimately have? Trinity v. St. X? That its fanbase largely views cheating as a perfectly acceptable means of winning? There’s just not much there.

I don’t see any comparison between a job like Louisville and some of the great flagship public schools like UNC or UVA.  Yeah, those schools have had only sporadic past football success.  But they are places with ample resources and selling points, where if a coach could build a winning program it would be more realistic to sustain it over a long period of time.  Think about programs like Wisconsin before Alvarez, or Oregon before Belotti—they weren’t good at football then either, but the potential was always there.  I look at Louisville and I just don’t see that kind of potential. 

As far as Boston College and Georgia Tech, I think those are much closer calls.  I put them ahead of Louisville because I see them both as superior institutions with better football tradition, but I suppose Louisville’s recent success under John L and Petrino may give them a case.  Even if UL is the better job, though, it’s not by much.

11/12/2018 - 8:50pm If my parents had named me …

If my parents had named me “Crowley Sullivan” I’d be pissed off too.

11/12/2018 - 8:45pm I think his butt was hurting…

I think his butt was hurting and so he was trying to stay off of it.

11/12/2018 - 8:21pm Edwards had been out of…

Edwards had been out of coaching for a while but at least he’d done it.  But was Griese ever a coach?  If he was, it couldn’t have been for very long or at a particularly high level.

11/12/2018 - 7:54pm Rich Rod would be an…

Rich Rod would be an interesting possibility.

11/12/2018 - 7:45pm Totally agree.  If Brohm…

Totally agree.  If Brohm feels like he’s another season from seriously breaking through at Purdue (and winning like 9-10 games), then it might make sense to stay another year and go for something better than Louisville.  But right now the only real top job that is expected to open up is USC, and he’s neither a good regional fit nor a proven enough commodity for that gig.  

11/12/2018 - 7:35pm No way is Louisville the…

No way is Louisville the fourth-best ACC job.  Not even close.  FSU, Clemson, Miami, UNC, and Virginia Tech are all clearly better, and I’d put the UVA, Georgia Tech, and Boston College jobs ahead of Louisville as well.

11/12/2018 - 7:29pm OSU definitely squashed that…

OSU definitely squashed that publicly.

Publicly.

11/12/2018 - 6:21pm Ah, didn’t realize that.  I…

Ah, didn’t realize that.  I thought Weber had already decided upon OSU and then M flipped Higdon from Iowa as a plan B.  Either way it worked out better for M, as Higdon wound up being the superior back.  

11/12/2018 - 4:08pm Reese's Pieces are gross. …

Reese's Pieces are gross.  Only aliens like those.  Now peanut butter cups, that's a different story.

11/12/2018 - 3:58pm I mean, we are going to be…

I mean, we are going to be replacing the best Michigan LB since the '90s and possibly the best ever.  M has recruited well at the position and hopefully whoever takes over will be up to the task, but I'm not sure there is any way to relieve the apprehension until we see it on the field.

11/12/2018 - 1:32pm There's a part of me that…

There's a part of me that thinks the 2016 M-OSU game was like 2007 Stanford-USC but where the Trojans pull it out at the end instead of the Cardinal, and that 2018 M-OSU is going to be like the 2009 Stanford-USC where Harbaugh's team is just plainly better and dominates.

But I am not ready to say that out loud.

11/12/2018 - 1:28pm I believe Perry got one…

I believe Perry got one target in the game off a scramble attempt and the pass was incomplete.

11/12/2018 - 12:24pm "Incarnate Word?" Is that,…

"Incarnate Word?" Is that, like, the Hollywood sign but for Jesus?

11/12/2018 - 11:45am Karlaftis is from West…

Karlaftis is from West Lafayette.  So Purdue is literally his hometown school.  It's not just Brohm.  It's Brohm at Purdue.

 

11/12/2018 - 11:39am I don't follow the point you…

I don't follow the point you are making about Mike Weber.  I thought his deal was that Weber felt he was deceived because the position coach who recruited him to OSU up and left after Weber signed?  

11/12/2018 - 9:40am I don't know what the reason…

I don't know what the reason Black hasn't gotten more targets is.  But it seems like if there was a risk of re-injuring the foot, he wouldn't be out there at all.  It's probably running and planting on the foot that stresses the bone--not being hit or tackled.  So I am skeptical about that explanation.

The timing thing could have some merit.  But Black worked with Patterson throughout the year and through fall camp before the injury, and returned to practice before the MSU game.  So that's quite a bit of time to work on the timing--four weeks leading up to the Rutgers kickoff.  I'm skeptical of that explanation as well.

One thing I've noticed about Harbaugh's offense is that he seems to have different "packages" that feature particular players.  Perhaps since Black was out for so many games, the staff hasn't developed as large of a package for Black as for some of the other guys?

Maybe it's just sort of happenstance?  If you look at DPJ's stat line, for instance, he's had four games in which he caught 4+ receptions.  But he's also had three games with just one catch and against Northwestern he had two receptions for just 14 yards.  And it's not like DPJ has put up big numbers against bad teams and vice-versa; he had his season-high in catches against ND, while having one reception against Nebraska and one against Maryland.  Black's only been back for really two games (against MSU he only played a couple of snaps) and would have had a catch against Penn State if not for the holding call--so if DPJ's numbers are a guide it's not that surprising he's gone a couple games with just the one target.  That's especially true when you consider that the ball is being spread around to a lot more guys now, with Black and Evans back in the lineup, Eubanks getting more targets, and coaches seemingly making an effort to get Martin and Bell involved against Rutgers.  

 

11/12/2018 - 7:18am If Tru Wilson had entered…

If Tru Wilson had entered Michigan with 4-stars, nobody would be concerned about whether M will have an experienced back with a physical running style ready for next season.  

11/11/2018 - 9:26pm Maybe an analyst gig if John…

Maybe an analyst gig if John isn’t looking to get immediately back into coaching and wants to spend some time around his family?

11/11/2018 - 9:05pm Managing a Best Buy?  I don…

Managing a Best Buy?  I don’t think they’d trust ZS to staff the clearance section.

11/11/2018 - 3:10pm Thanks.  Hadn't actually…

Thanks.  Hadn't actually noticed that particular metric in UFR.

11/11/2018 - 2:34pm One of these days umbig11 is…

One of these days umbig11 is going to get tired of taking petty flak from all these internet tough guys and stop posting here.  Sigh.

11/11/2018 - 10:07am Great diary.  Thanks for…

Great diary.  Thanks for putting this together.

I have an embarrassingly simple question, but how do you determine the percentages for individual players?  Is it the % of snaps on which the player did not get a minus?  

 

11/11/2018 - 9:52am Shea didn’t, I don’t think,…

Shea didn’t, I don’t think, run one time. Was that by design, tonight?

“Yeah, we weren’t really — we’ve been running the ball quite a bit the last couple weeks.

Seems like JH was about to say something like "yeah, we weren't really going to risk getting our QB injured against this lousy team" and then caught himself.

11/10/2018 - 3:05pm I mean, OSU’s punter…

I mean, OSU’s punter deserves a lot of credit for pinning Sparty deep.  But it wouldn’t have been so devastating if Sparty could have just gotten a first down or two.  

11/10/2018 - 3:00pm All cruelty, no character.

All cruelty, no character.

11/10/2018 - 2:59pm The couch has been ignited.

The couch has been ignited.

11/10/2018 - 2:54pm Before today the OSU player…

Before today the OSU player who scared me the most was KJ Hill.  Now it’s their punter.

11/10/2018 - 2:51pm If Willekes is hurt MSU is…

If Willekes is hurt MSU is done.

11/10/2018 - 2:45pm I should have specified: MSU…

I should have specified: MSU should take the intentional safety and not kick off out of bounds.

11/10/2018 - 2:42pm MSU should just take the…

MSU should just take the intentional safety.

11/10/2018 - 2:40pm Lombardi looking like…

Lombardi looking like Lewerke.

11/10/2018 - 2:38pm Haskins should know by now…

Haskins should know by now that Johnny Dixon only catches passes against Michigan.